Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hawaii reservists are not alone when they come home from battle

Hawaii reservists are not alone when they come home from battle
Aug 28, 2010

By Teri Okita

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Flashbacks, insomnia, hallucinations - all very real problems for some of Hawaii's returning servicemembers.

"It was pretty rough. I did have nightmares. The stress level was pretty high for me, just because of what I experienced there."

Sergeant Noelani DE Silva saw some pretty horrific things during her 10 month tour in Iraq. "I had no choice but to be strong, "she says. DE Silva's job was to meet with and collect personal information from injured soldiers - many who's limbs had been blown off from roadside bombs.

When she returned home to Hawaii in 2007, she had a hard time adjusting, although she was never specifically diagnosed with PTSD. Still, at first, she didn't want counseling. "I did actually go and seek help afterwards for relief, ‘cause I couldn't sleep, and it was real difficult."

DE Silva still battles some emotions, especially when thinking about a fellow soldier who she took under her wing in Iraq. She tears up when saying "He's still having problems, and we've been back for what, three years now? So, I still carry that burden because it kind of destroyed his personal life."

The Department of Defense finally decided it needed to specifically address the problems and challenges of reservists. Since 9-11, the military has had to call upon more part-time servicemembers for both Iraq and Afghanistan, and many have gone on multiple tours in the Middle East. When they return from war, their needs are often quite different from those on active duty.

Many return, not to the security and familiarity of a military base, but to their civilian lives where they were often left on their own. So, two summers ago - seven years after the September 11th attacks - the DOD launched the Yellow Ribbon program.
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Hawaii reservists are not alone when they come home from battle

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